This is a conversation we had about why it is so hard for women to be kind to themselves.
“How can I when I have to get the dinner and prepare for my presentation and call in on my mum? There’s no time for me!”
Nearly every client I see struggles to make time for her own needs, do you see this with your clients too?
[Tweet "Making time for our own needs is probably one of the hardest challenges for women."]
And there are so many layers as to why this is the case.
But, me time/self-care/kindness to yourself, however you refer to the concept, doesn’t need to be a grand event; we can show ourselves kindness with small gestures.
Very often a small gesture can act as a powerful signal. One favourite of mine is kettle boiling meditation, and no that’s not an indication of me losing it completely!! When the kettle is heating, I spend the time focusing on my breathing and being present, instead of busying myself with other stuff. It creates a beautiful pause in my day. I also have a clever app that bleeps at me at random times to remind me to drop my shoulders; it tweets like a blackbird; so sweet!
For one of my clients it was just jotting down her feelings on her cycle chart each day. A tiny thing. Then by the next week she was cutting back on her work and giving herself extra time to relax every day, it was fantastic to witness!
Alexandra Pope calls it ‘the 1%’ doesn’t she, how that has worked for your clients?
Yes that 1% oozes with ease and kindness, once it’s allowed. It might be a quiet moment writing a journal entry, or stopping rather than multi-tasking while drinking your cup of tea, or taking a walk at lunchtime instead of eating sandwiches at your desk. The problem is we have developed into a nation compelled to always be “doing” something haven’t we?
We are obsessed with doing! Perhaps this is what stops women being kind to ourselves, the idea that if we only can cross everything off the list then we’ll be content/loved/good or whatever. Unfortunately taking time out to listen to our bodies is not on the list!
A lot of our patterns of over-doing and not nourishing ourselves are learned from our mums. In a family that values busyness, you can be sure the children don’t feel comfortable hanging out and getting bored. As a mum I’m very conscious of trying to model a healthy balance between resting and activity. What else do you think stops women from being kind?
Ah now there’s a question! The reasons can be incredibly profound. From deeply-held beliefs that we don’t deserve to be kind to ourselves, to commonly held beliefs that even when our bodies are crying out to just stop, we think we can and should power on because that’s what society says we should do. If we don’t power on, it’s perceived as weakness.
Our kindness needs aren’t always constant though are they?
[Tweet "We STOP, That's all. For just a moment."]
The sort of kindness we need will ebb and flow through our cycles, so what might be kind on day 12 – parteeee! May not be what we desire on 24 – which was to live in a cave in my case. But except for particular times of the month and circumstances, self massage is a perfect way to be kind. It gives us time to rest, listen to our bodies and gently improve circulation and balance hormones too.
Yes indeed, working with our menstrual cycles, or however we cycle, can be such a simple yet powerful way of gauging where our kindness needs are. If we keep a close eye on how we do ebb and flow we have access to a wealth of juicy information.
But kindness and being able to allow kindness is deeply personal and individual. So how can we explore this concept?
I thought it might be interesting to ask health professionals and therapists why women find it so hard to be kind to themselves and what we can do to change it. Stay tuned to read the responses here on the Love Your Belly blog or if you have a friend who could be easier on herself, why not share this article with her? You never know what might happen!
If this has got you thinking about the way you look after yourself (or not) why not join the conversation by leaving a comment below. You can also look at the full series of articles on kindness.